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Gambella Rights Observatory: Immediate Press Release

October 9,2018

Attention: H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian Prime Minister

Gambella, Ethiopia-East Africa

First, please accept our sincere congratulatory message for being re-elected as Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) Chairperson! We are supporting you and Deputy H.E. P.M. Mr. Demeke Mekonnen!!!

Photo credit: DhalDiim Oct 2, 2018-Gambella
We are writing to you with the utmost sense of urgency to take immediate action against the mid-day hyenas and corrupt government official and their affiliates in Gambella Regional Government leadership and renegade groups within the National Defense Forces and Federal Police. The situation is worsening each day. The massacre of the youth during peaceful demonstration on September 24, 2018 was not an isolated incident rather a long coordinated genocidal plan against Gambella’s Indigenous people, the Anyuak and an orchestrated attempt to overthrow your administration through violence and anarchy. The whole Gambella region is in critical security crisis mainly by government security apparatus who are resisting democratic change and the South Sudanese refugees who wrongly see Gambella Region as an analogous to South Sudan. October 2, 2018 a successful peaceful and democratic protest was carried out in Gambella town by the joined youth groups DhalDiim (newly formed Gambella based grassroots civil rights movement), Qeero, Zerma, and Fano. This is Ethiopia! These youth groups have shown what Ethiopia is supposed to be without allowing refugees to meddle with our affairs.

Honorable Prime Minister,

This calls for your immediate attention

On October 7, 2018 the head of DhalDiim, Omot Oguta Adew and two investors, Dr. Magn Nyang, Mr. Okwom and three Oromo individuals were arrested by the order of Ethiopian National Defense Force, General Berhanu, the commanding general of the Southwest division and 10 unaccounted for individuals from Nuer Community who opposed Gatluak Tut Khot refugee administration. DhalDiim is a civil rights movement and it’s inclusive but Gatluak Tut and his refugee members have turned it into Anywaa vs Nuer. Turning DhalDiim into a violence organization is a plan by federal government agencies whose intention is to keep Gambella in violent and corrupt status. This is an attack specifically on Dr. Abiy’s supporters. The Nuer who have been considered as Ethiopians since the last 60 years are the ones who Gatluak Tut is targeting because they are against Gatluak illegal administration. Dr. Magn Nyang is an investor person whose concerns are to end illegal administration and mafia like governance in the Gambella regional government and the association of Gambella Regional government and SPLA-IO. Magn is not a violent person but to arrest him is an affirmation that the democratic changes that took places in other parts of Ethiopia are applying to Gambella and we can conclude that Gambella is not treated as an integral part of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE). For how much longer do we expect to accept unfairness and injustices time and again to be imposed on us, the Gambella Indigenous? Mr. Okwom is just an investor so for what reason he was arrested, for being an Anyuak with money? Ethiopian federal government does not want Gambella people to empower themselves and their region? Dr. Magn Nyang left the United States of America and returned to his birthplace to invest and empower the people of the region and we target him yet we are calling on diaspora to return home to invest and participate in nation building but when you are an Anyuak you have no rights. Didn’t we call on the diaspora to return home to invest and participate in political processes or it was a bait to get them behind bars by military generals?

It is only in Gambella where a military general can still order the arrest of civilianswho are practicing their democratic rights. The question is who is General Berhanu? General Berhanu is a corrupt general who recently bribed for 7 million Ethiopian birr by Gatluak Tut and his associates to clamp down anti-corrupt refugee Gatluak Tut and his associates. When Murle carried out cross border raid two years ago, General Berhanu was sent to South Sudan where he only collected the presumed Nuer children from the abductors and returned them to Nuer some of which were Anyuak children but he gave them to Nuer without being bothered to return them to their biological parents. Not only that he, General Berhanu, did not search for Anyuak children abducted by Murle. He ended the operation as soon as he found the alleged Nuer children. He is well known for favoring Nuer community whether regardless of their legal status in Ethiopia. General Berhanu will start the next war in the Gambella Region if not removed or transferred to another division away from Southwest. Should there be another mass killing of Anyuak either by Nuer or security personnel, General Berhanu will be held accountable. We have had enough of him and his partial practices. Additionally, General Berhanu is also connected with another high corruption deal between Gatluak Tut and the owner of Grand Hotel that was built illegally on the Sudanese Consulate in the heart of Gambella town. The land where Grand Hotel is built on belongs to Sudanese government and because Gatluak Tut is a refugee who knew nothing about the land, he blindly gave the land to the Grand Hotel lady. The deal was done through former Minister for Federal Affairs, currently, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States Kassa Teklebrhan who’s a blood relative to the Grand Hotel owner. Kassa and Gatluak have major corruption deals between them including 10 million Ethiopian birr Gatluak donated to an organization based in Amhara region that is associated with Amb Kassa. We have evidence to present.

His Excellency Dr. Abiy,

We understand that your administration is overwhelmed cleaning out 27 years old rubbish and the just concluded EPRDF General Assembly, however, there is rising insecurity and resistance movement which are directed to subvert your government which call for your immediate action. Gambella geopolitics is so fluid that if not given immediate attention, it will become the epicenter of East Africa regional war. Genocide is looming on the vulnerable Anyuak people by the well-armed group who crossed the border with their weapons from South Sudan and with allegiance to Dr. Riek Machar movement the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) along with the renegade soldiers and opportunists who want to bring down your government. Many of these frequent border crossers claim Ethiopian citizenship yet they don’t abide by the law of the land. In February 2016 after they murdered prisoners in Gambella town regional penitentiary, they raised South Sudanese flag. Gambella is slowly becoming like Somali region.

Gambella has become a sanctuary of refugee mainly from South Sudan where they outnumbered the host community/ citizens. Refugee populations should not surpass the numbers of the host community according to the refugee convention governing laws. Presently, Gambella region is hosting nearly half a million refugees vs state population that is just above a third of a million. The most disturbing part is, these refugees are armed and so vicious as stated in the above-SPLA-IO White Army. Nure violent nature is always a major problem in places where they bribe government and security officials to take over lands and jobs. These refugee populations are well armed with all sorts of automatic weapons. Why are refugees been allowed to carry guns meanwhile the natives cannot even be seen carrying a knife, they would end up in military detention. Does Ethiopian government have a plan to cede Gambella to South Sudan that we, the Indigenous of Gambella (Majang, Komo, Opo and Anyuak) do not know? At least some of percentage of Nuer are considered Gambella since the last 60 years but they cannot be 40% as inflated by financial bribery during 1997 Ethiopian Census. Nuer are transients. But Gatluak Tut is against the Nuer who are Ethiopians who are minority.

Federal government investigation is urgently needed to remove illegal Nuer from regional government positions, police, special forces, and in higher education institutions across the country. This is a waste of public resources. Nuer who claim Ethiopian citizens are found in Addis Ababa involving SPLA-SPLA-IO peace deal. Gambella employees have gone without salaries for months while Ethiopia has a functioning government. Why are South Sudanese rules being applied in the Gambella Region where one person or one tribe can loot the entire state resources for personal and tribal gain? We are calling on you to order a full audit and background investigation, and educational credentials verification.

South Sudanese who are armed to their teeth with AK47 right there in section of the Gambella town called ChangKwar which Derg designated for the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) officers in 1980s which later some of these refugees illegally changed the name to Newland which they called their area today after violently rooting out Anyuak from their land.

This is not an intention to put blame on you and your administration for all the problems of Gambella which your predecessors had orchestrated mainly against the Anyuak because you just came to power. However, if you may allow us to call a name, Mr. Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn brought current crisis to its climax by accepting SPLA-IO to conduct its military operation from the Gambella Region turning it into a launching pad against South Sudan, and for supporting refugee regional governor Gatluak Tut Khot. Gatluak used to be sheltered in Dimma refugee camps until 1997 and you know Dimma Woreda so who brought him to power? There is no article in the Ethiopian constitution that states refugees can seek naturalization to obtain Ethiopian citizenship. Ethiopia did not sign Geneva Refugee Convention stating it would naturalize refugees to become citizens. Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) is a leading government agency meddling in the regional affairs by empowering refugees to do whatever they want to do including killing the host communities, abducting children moving in and out of the designated camps for refugees. For example, in Dimma Woreda, refugee camps, ARRA intimidated Anyuak not to claim their kidnapped children by Murle criminals. Why would a government agency act that way? Maybe there is a hidden article in the federal government hand that spells systematic ways of eliminating the Anyuak from their own land then we demand to know. ARRA being the integral part of the security apparatus, it’s above the law and it’s unacceptable. We demand to replace ARRA leaders in all refugee camps in the Gambella Region. Worse so, Nuer refugee who spilled over in the Gambella Region due to prolong civil in South Sudan were given new counties/woreda. This is unacceptable and we ask that your administration investigates these fictitious woreda and disqualify them. We do not have the budget and the manpower to keep expanding uncontrollably. South Sudanese laws where they keep creating new states shouldn’t be practiced in Ethiopia.

Gambella 3
These peaceful protestors above were chanting “we are ready for Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s change but whoever resist these democratic changes, we will fight them democratically.” Photo credit: DahlDiim Oct 2, 2018-Gambella
Gambella 3
Photo credit: DahlDiim Oct 2, 2018-

This poster in the above speaks millions of words. There has never been a government in Ethiopia before H.E. PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed that has been challenged by the people for the crime government security forces had committed. Dr. Abiy Ahmed, you are people’s leader sent to save Ethiopia so we stand behind you unequivocally! We have to protect this democracy and democracy is all about respect for humanity and human choices, that’s all.

September 24/Miskrem 13 and 14 killing was ordered and paid for by Gatluak Tut Khot who is still giving orders through General Berhanu. General Berhanu is a public enemy. The Anyuak youths who were killed, were shot in the head or left side of their chests. That is an execution style that must be investigated. Other individuals were shot while having coffee at the restaurant one of which is a UNHCR driver Kiru who’s currently undergoing treatment in Addis Ababa. We speak facts here not hearsay or finger pointing. On September 23 at around 8pm local time, a group of Nuer ordered by Gatluak ambushed and killed an Anyuak youth by the name of Okello Owar. Gatluak paid 30,000 birr to his security to kill Anyuak in order to smear DhalDiim as a violence organization. On the morning of September 24, while Anyuak youths were at the burial of Okello Owar, that when a group of organized Nuer once again went to attack the neighborhood known as Ominiga where they killed Okello the night before. When the Anyuak youths went to rescue people in Ominiga that was the time the Ethiopia National Defense Forces (ENDF) indiscriminately shot and kill 4 Anyuak youths wounding 22.

Mr. Prime Minister,

Your methodical response to insecurity in hotspot regions is commendable. Nonetheless, a delay response will bring down your administration prematurely and this will have some catastrophic consequences for the whole Ethiopia thus nobody wants that to happen except the autocratic regime lovers. As you may already know, we love you not only because you are the first democratic leader in our country but it’s because we have a lot in common with you hail from Oromo, particularly Southwestern Oromo of Illubabor and Wolega combined, we have historical ties. You know who the landowners of Gambella. So, we view you as one of us that is why you have already given a second name Wara-Ajulu meaning a son of Ajulu. As you know, Ajulu is a second born gal in the family and Ariet is a first-born gal and Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam was named as Wara-Ariet and it’s not to be mistranslated as you are hail from one family rather you are democratic, reformist, peace loving, respectful, true human, inspirational, transformational, anti-corruption, and the list goes on. We love you and support you all the way! We are standing firmly against the corrupt, anti-peace, and anti-democratic elements. There is no going back.

United States President Lyndon Johnson once told Civil Rights Icon, Dr. Martin Luther King that “we are both from the South and I understand your problems, I will support you.” That was when the Civil Rights Movement was signed into law by President Johnson. You need to help Gambella and settle the refugee crisis. This is not only Anyuak problem, it’s Ethiopians problem. Gambella people are suffering of high unemployment rates because most of the jobs are taken over by the refugees. You can easily verify it just by one phone call to Gambella. Please do something before unnecessary blood spills.

H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed,

We conclude by asking you to order immediate release of the arbitrarily detained freedom and democratic fighters, Obang Oguta, Okwom, Magn Nyang, and 13 others.

Gambella 4


Gambella Rights Observatory

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